5 Critical Aspects of Transformer Maintenance

The only thing you can do in the aftermath is take a good selfie in poor taste.

Transformers can take a lot of abuse and they send so many warnings before they go “boom”, but someone has to take a look. In today’s fast pacing world, do we even notice things that exist quietly for decades?

Proper maintenance of the transformer should include inspections, oil testing, electrical testing and other activities as recommended by the manufacturer. There are various maintenance strategies, which are based on the type of operation and consequences of transformer failure.

These are the 5 most critical aspects that should be taken in consideration when planning transformer maintenance:

★ 1: Prevention is better than a cure!

Maintenance activities serve one major purpose: to detect potential problems and eliminate them before they result in failure. The price of a new transformer is incomparably higher than the cost of testing. The repair is often not an option – the damage is either too big or the repair cost is too high. Time is also a major factor – it takes 6 – 12 months to fix or replace a damaged transformer.

If you cannot afford the downtime – make sure you have a proper maintenance strategy.

★ 2: See for your self!

Keep a keen eye on your most precious equipment. Take a regular walk around the transformer and look for any leaks, cracks or broken seals, excess dirt or moisture, non functioning devices, anything that shows that the transformer is in distress. Do this once a week or once a month, depending on the critical importance of the transformer and the severity of the operating conditions.

Once or twice a year, perform a thermographic survey. Every 6 – 10 years (depending on the operating conditions), take the transformer off line and look under its covers.

★ 3: Monitor the vital signs!

Although they cannot complain verbally, transformers will tell you months and even years in advance when something is aching them. Essential oil tests, conveniently available in one kit, will show you any signs of aging, arcing, burning, sludge forming, oxidation, increased levels of moisture or formation of combustible gases.

Transformer oil testing must be done at least on annual basis. Make sure that the sampling of oil is done properly, otherwise the results will be misleading.

★ 4: Seek expert advice!

Having regular testing is good, but someone still needs to interpret the results. When we want to check our health, we don’t just pick up the test results – we ask our trusted GP to interpret it for us. Some results may be within the parameters, but a combination of increased cholesterol, higher blood pleasure, advanced age and a few extra pounds, may eventually result in a serious health problems, easily corrected with a smart diet.

The same applies for the transformers – maybe they need closer monitoring, maybe they need oil purification, or a combination of fast and cost effective procedures that can be performed on site, rather than waiting for the condition to deteriorate to the extent that the “check in to hospital” is required.

★ 5: Protect the environment!

Monetary loss aside, transformer burning is an environmental disaster and serious health hazard. Transformer oil is heavy soil pollutant, with very low biodegradation rate, while both oil and burning gases are cancerogenic. With so many simple and low cost methods to monitor the health of the transformer, you can ensure that the transformer is removed from services before it catastrophically fails.

For help in preventing the above selfie from occuring, contact us for professional consulting.

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